exploring the intersections of sustainability, style & social change

organicspa-style

Model Mission: An Organic Spa Feature On Conscious Fashion Brands

05/18/2013

Not long ago, there was a trade-off between shopping stylishly and shopping responsibly. But a new crop of conscious companies is proving that it’s possible to produce sustainable and ethical fashion without sacrificing style. Now they are teaming up with large brands like J. Crew, Anthropologie, Whole Foods and Target to get their products into the mainstream.

My latest fashion feature in the May/June issue of Organic Spa magazine, featuring Indego Africa, INDIGENOUS, One Mango Tree, and basik 855. On newsstands now!

amazon kindle sustainability

Behind The Label: The Sustainability Of The Amazon Kindle

05/15/2013

Originally published on EcoSalon.

In just a matter of years, e-readers like the Amazon Kindle have fundamentally changed the publishing industry, replacing traditional paper books with digital downloads that can be accessed in a matter of minutes.

For many, the Kindle-versus-“real”-book debate boils down to a sense of nostalgia. For years, I refused to even entertain the idea of purchasing an e-reader, preferring instead the look, feel, and experience of reading a paper book.

But there are environmental implications to each option too. Some claim that e-readers are preferable to books, since they don’t require the plentiful amounts of paper and high costs of transport. However, the environmental cost of mining, energy use, and e-waste in the lifecycle of a Kindle shouldn’t be discounted. Add to that equation Amazon’s notorious secrecy surrounding its manufacturing practices, which makes it difficult to make any real comparisons between the two. Read More

Fashion Designers Without Borders: Kenya

05/09/2013

I’m a big proponent of big brand-social enterprise collaborations. But they can often be a hard sell to mainstream fashion brands that eye a singular bottom line over a triple one. Social entrepreneur and trend forecaster Chrissie Lam’s solution is to show fashion industry professionals the impact an artisan collaboration can have when a brand commits to a long-term partnership. Through her new consultancy, The Supply Change, Lam has partnered with luxury safari company Extraordinary Journeys to launch Fashion Designers Without Borders: a series of immersive “sourcing safaris” intended to connect the mainstream fashion industry with artisan communities. The first trip took place in Kenya earlier this year; here’s a look at how it went.

lake placid adirondacks

Getting Away: Lake Placid, New York

05/08/2013

Ecotourism is a broad and often misused term. It is regularly used to imply a type of environmental superiority over other forms of travel, involving practices that are friendlier to people and the planet. But travel in itself can be environmentally toxic, particularly with the massive amounts of carbon emitted through air and automobile travel and electricity consumed by tourism-related infrastructure, like hotels and attractions.

That’s why I was curious to take a deeper dive into the elements of an ecotourism destination in Lake Placid, New York — a corner of the Adirondacks that is vying for the title of “America’s greenest destination.”

lake placid solar panels

The sleepy town is best known as a hub for adventure travel. It hosted the Winter Olympics in both 1932 and 1980, and is a year-round training ground for sports from skiing to hockey to horse riding. It’s a beautiful place, surrounded by sparkling lakes and snow-dusted mountaintops. Indeed, it’s Lake Placid’s natural beauty that first inspired efforts to conserve it, said Jennifer Holdereid, owner and marketing director of the Golden Arrow Lakeside Resort.

Holdereid has been at the forefront of efforts to “green” both her hotel and the entire region. The Golden Arrow doesn’t scream eco-friendliness at first, lacking the clean, minimalist design that we’ve come to associate with green properties. But its environmental friendliness runs deep, encompassing everything from solar-powered water heaters to recycled carpeting, low-flow toilets, and energy-efficient vacuum cleaners.

golden arrow lakeside resort

While committed to environmentalism, Holdereid admits if the customer wants it, she’ll provide it, which may be why guest rooms come equipped with not-quite-eco-friendly “extras” like Keurig coffee makers. When questioned about the Keurigs, Holdereid readily admitted that the decision to replace previous Maxwell House coffee makers with the pod variety came after a tremendous amount of research, which included conversations with K-cup supplier Green Mountain Coffee on their efforts to produce a more eco-friendly pod.

The Keurig question is just one of many dilemmas that Holdereid faces on a daily basis when running an eco-friendly property. But when thinking about ecotourism, it’s important to not only consider factors like carbon emissions and waste, but also the extent to which a destination’s tourism industry supports the local community. In Lake Placid, I saw countless examples of this idea in action. Furnishings are made from locally-sourced wood. CFL lightbulbs are bought from the local Boy Scouts troop. And Chef David Hunt’s first task as head of Golden Arrow’s Generations restaurant was to take a road trip to meet with local farmers and suppliers. Hunt is particularly passionate about maple syrup, which is purchased from colleagues at the nearby Cornell Sugar Maple Research Station and pops up in everything from salad dressing to salmon to artisanal cocktails.

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Other regional highlights include a visit to the WILD Center at Tupper Lake, a LEED-certified science museum geared toward children; a stroll through Lake Placid’s charming Main Street shops; and treks through the region’s 46 peaks. Even those that aren’t environmentally-minded will be struck by the region’s natural beauty — and hopefully leave with a reminder to conserve it.

Special thanks to the Lake Placid Tourism Board, Golden Arrow Lakeside Resort, Generations Restaurant, Lake Placid Convention Center, WILD Center at Tupper Lake, Heaven Hill Farm, Cornell Sugar Maple Research Station, and Inphorm Communications for a wonderful and informative stay.

della urban outfitters

Treasures: The Della X Urban Outfitters Capsule Collection

05/05/2013

In the new Della X Urban Outfitters capsule collection, traditional African Dutch Wax cloth gets reimagined into ’80s style track shorts, boxy bomber jackets, and hip backpacks.

The collaboration is a long time in the making for Della, a Los Angeles-based social enterprise that works in Ghana. But it’s a natural one. Nomad hipsters get to choose from a colorful array of exotic fabrics in trendy silhouettes. And Della’s artisans get the distribution, recognition, and sales they deserve.

Plus, all the items are under $69.

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uo.shorts.tribal.1  uo.short.shorts

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The Della X UO capsule collection, available for under $69 at urbanoutfitters.com.

levi's life cycle assessment

How Big Brands Are Using Supply Chain Storytelling To Connect With Their Customers

05/03/2013

“Brands are opening up about their supply chains in order to gain trust from customers who are concerned about their own health, the conditions of workers, and the environmental practices of their suppliers,” said Frank Millero, an industrial designer and visiting Sustainability and Production professor at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York. “These concerned customers are motivated by different reasons, but the commonality is that they desire more information about the origins and manufacturing processes of the products they buy and use. I think that as the food industry has become more transparent, people are applying that scrutiny to other products as well.”

Read the full story on MainStreet.com.

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